Tuesday, August 10, 2010

All Over The Map: A Review

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by Read-it-Forward. The views expressed here are honest and are in no way influenced by the author or the publishers.

Synopsis via Google Books

On a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, to celebrate her fortieth birthday, Laura Fraser confronts the unique trajectory of her life. Divorced and childless in her thirties, she found solace in the wanderlust that had always directed her heart—and found love and comfort in the arms of a dashing Frenchman. Their Italian affair brought her back to herself—but now she wonders if her passion for travel (and for short-lived romantic rendezvous) has deprived her of what she secretly wants most from life: a husband, a family, a home.

    When her Parisian lover meets her in Oaxaca and gives her news that he’s found someone new, Laura is stunned and hurt. Now, it seems, she has nothing but her own independence for company—and, at forty, a lot more wrinkles on her face and fewer years of fertility. How is Laura going to reconcile what seem to be two opposite desires: for adventure, travel, great food, and new experiences, but also a place to call home—and a loving pair of arms to greet her there?

   And so, she globe hops. What else is a travel writer to do? From Argentina to Peru, Naples to Paris, she basks in the glow of new cultures and local delicacies, always on the lookout for the “one” who might become a lifelong companion. But when a terrible incident occurs while she’s on assignment in the South Pacific, Laura suddenly finds herself more aware of her vulnerability and becomes afraid of traveling. It seems as if she might lose the very thing that has given her so much pleasure in her life, not to mention the career she has built for herself as a world traveler and chronicler of far-flung places.

   Finding herself again will be both more difficult and more natural than she imagined. Ultimately, Laura realizes the most important journey she must take is an internal one. And the tale of how she reaches that place will captivate every woman who has ever yearned for a different life.

My Review

I have to admit, I fell in love with this story from the get go. All Over the Map chronicles the life of Laura Fraser, a freelance writer and journalist who is trying to answer one of life’s great questions; can a woman be independent and free spirited with a great career while at the same time establish and maintain a long lasting relationship? Her soul searching journey takes her to the four corners of the world and you’d be surprised with the answers that she finds.

All over the map is the sequel to The Italian Affair, Fraser’s earlier work yet the book can easily stand on its own. There are many references to the latter story but this is only done to give the reader some perspective on where Fraser has come from. Some readers may also find this story a close resemblance to [book:Eat Pray Love|19501] by Elisabeth Gilbert but my jury is still out on that matter.

The story offers something for everyone. It’s devoted to those of us who wish we could “go there someday”.  The reader lives vicariously through Fraser who, with each new location, does a great job recreating the sights and smells of the place in vivid detail. If that wasn’t enough to get your attention, foodies will be delighted to find out that their passion is given equal treatment. You can almost taste the meals as you read.  Aside from the great locales, the story is a treasure trove of ideas, concepts and beliefs about life that is both relevant and pertinent to modern women.

As a memoir, this story gives the reader a sense of being in the author’s head. It’s a great tactic for first person narration since in gaining the perspective of the author, you also begin to identify with her. Though the crux of the issue takes place in midlife for Fraser I couldn’t help but wonder if it possible for this juncture in life; finding a balance between being intelligent, successful and independent while finding and maintaining a great relationship, to come earlier? I think that most young woman of my generation are holding fast to those same feminist ideals that Fraser expounds in her book.

 The other advantage of the writing style is that you can look at her life from an outsider’s perspective. Fraser is most comfortable on the road, running from her problems and she at times refuses to face her reality. It’s funny because she always gets placed in situations where she has no other choice but to face the facts. I found great examples of this on the retreat and at her class reunion.

The characters that we are introduced to the readers are just as rich and dynamic as the places that Fraser visits. Her inner circle stays true to her lifestyle and comprises of people from around the world. Though there was not a lot of emphasis placed on them at times, there present certainly made Fraser’s journey seem less lonely.

There is truly no happily ever after except for the ones that we create and All Over the Map embodies that premise perfectly. I really enjoyed reading this book but I also came out of the experience much wiser about what I want and do not want in life.  If you haven't read this book yet then you should. This book should definitely be in your to-read pile.

1 comment:

DCMetroreader said...

I really enjoyed this book too! Great review!

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